CLEBURNE — There was good news for the Stephenville Yellow Jackets Tuesday, and there was bad news.
The good news was that they had one of their worst shooting nights of the year — and still came close to knocking off Cleburne at home, falling 46-39 in their first district loss.
The bad news is that their schedule only gets tougher over the next week and a half, as they are set to take on district powers Mineral Wells, Crowley and Everman.
The Yellow Jackets struggled from the field all game, managing just three field goals in the first half. They were down 30-15 at the break, and had no answer for Cleburne’s star sophomore, Ethan Anderson, who had 15 points of his own in the first half.
Anderson finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds, and was a big part of Cleburne’s dominance on the glass. Stephenville was out-rebounded 35-18.
Trey Taylor led Stephenville with 13 points, including a three-pointer off an inbounds pass from Jace Mills that cut Cleburne’s lead to three, 42-39, with 35 seconds left in the game.
Jared Mills finished with 11.
Stephenville outscored Cleburne 24-16 in the second half, locking down on defense. They began their run at the end of the third quarter, as Taylor hit a three-pointer from the top of the key, cutting Cleburne’s lead to 15.
Tom Ed Ramsay forced a tieball with his help defense, then hit a three-pointer of his own off a pass from Colby Rives. Cleburne turned the ball over, giving Taylor a shot at a buzzer-beating heave from near half court, but he was off.
Going into the fourth quarter, Cleburne, which had appeared ready to coast to an easy win, was hanging on to a 37-25 lead.
Jared Mills hit a three to bring the lead to single digits, but Anderson hit a pair of free throws halfway through the quarter to make it 39-28. Mills made a nice runner of the glass the next trip down and was fouled, but couldn’t convert the three-point play.
After a layup by Anderson, Stephenville scored four straight. Anderson made another free throw, and Rives followed up a missed shot by Cody Davis to cut the lead to six with 41 seconds left.
Stephenville trapped Scotty Walden on the press, and drew an offensive foul, allowing them to regain possession. Jace Mills found Taylor for the open three-pointer, and Stephenville fouled immediately on the inbounds.
DeSean Thomas sank both foul shots for Cleburne, though, stretching the lead to five, 44-39. Taylor missed a long shot, and Anderson was fouled soon after coming down with the rebound. He hit both, and the final score was set at 46-39.
The Yellow Jackets host the Mineral Wells Rams Friday. Tip off is at 8 p.m.